The East Coast Premiere of John Muehleisen’s dramatic oratorio. The story of poet Rudyard Kipling and his family’s interaction with Seattle-based composer John Muehleisen allows the drama to unfold musically in this significant new contribution to the 21st-century choral canon. Scored for chamber orchestra, soloists and vocal ensemble.
In addition to portraying the heart-rending Kipling family experience, Muehleisen asks the larger questions having to do with how loss can be turned to remembrance and reconciliation.
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On this last Sunday in Advent, Ember offers an interactive family event in the heart of Montclair for all to sing seasonal favorites, both sacred and secular. Children, in particular, are welcomed and will be given a special role in the Seasonal Sing.
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Settings of the popular WWI poem In Flanders Field will punctuate dreams of peace and expressions of devastation from all the nations involved in The Great War. Where Poppies Grow metaphorically signifies all the homelands from which soldiers were lost.
The program will include the pre-war (1907) statement of innocent belief in peace on earth (soon to be shattered), Schoenberg’s Friede auf Erden, and additional selections including works by Michael McGlynn of Anuna, Eleanor Daley, and Bradley Nelson.
Where Poppies Grow takes its name from the popular WWI poem, “In Flanders Fields,” by Canadian poet John McCrae, in which he references fields of poppies where many soldiers lost their lives and are buried. Ember will perform three musical settings of the poem during the program.
The concert will focus on music and poetry from many of the nations involved in WWI and will honor all the fallen soldiers from both sides of the conflict.
“The point we seek to make with this concert is that the experience of war is the same on both sides of the battle line; and furthermore, that those whose lives are endangered are almost never those making decisions about war,” says Dr. King. “With our singing, we always hope to provide a vicarious experience that can serve as a catalyst for heightened attention and fresh thinking around subjects of significance. Especially in a democratic nation, we have the opportunity to effect leadership responsible for making decisions on our behalf. I believe the arts can have a uniquely powerful impact because of their ability to reach deeply into our souls.”
In Where Poppies Grow, Ember will sing of
Although the concert’s message about loss is a powerful one, it is equally a message about hope through unity of vision (“Everyone Suddenly Burst out Singing” by Canadian composer, Peter Wilshire).
The March concerts are the second of three sets of concerts making up Ember’s current season, When the War is Over, that focuses on issues having to do with military conflict, its catalysts and aftermath. The season honors the centenary anniversary of WWI, culminating in Armistice Day concerts in November, 2018.
Veterans will be recognized and honored at every performance and given red lapel poppies, the WWI symbol for solidarity with soldiers.
Falling between the Civil War (1861-65) and the Civil Rights Movement (mid-1950s through 1960s), WWI provided a poignant context for Woodrow Wilson’s statement on behalf of declaring war against Germany: that the world “be made safe for democracy.”
Thousands of men of African-American descent, and thousands of Native Americans We saved democracy in France and, by the Great Jehovah, we will save it in the United States! responded to the call to serve in the army of a country that still denied them basic rights of citizenship. Meanwhile, American citizens of German descent were being interred on American soil.
Upon returning from the war, W.E.B. DuBois declared: “We saved [democracy] in France and, by the Great Jehovah, we will save it in the United States of America, or know the reason why.” Safe for Democracy looks at this continuing societal conundrum, exploring poetry and music from the Harlem Renaissance (including works by Langston Hughes, William Grant Still, and Duke Ellington) through the 21st century.
The concerts will continue Ember’s year-long examination of the human impact of military conflict, in this case through the lens of ongoing sociological changes in America that were dramatically intensified in as a result of WWI. Issues surrounding gender and racial equality, as well as the emergence of increasingly noteworthy American-trained musicians against the backdrop of the immigration of many post-war European artists, will all be represented through music of the period.
Safe for Democracy takes as its point of departure Woodrow Wilson’s statement justifying his declaration of war, that the world “be made safe for Democracy.” Thousands of African Americans and Native Americans responded to the call to serve, yet returned home to a country that still denied them the most basic rights. WWI also provided a poignant context for expanding roles among women, many of whom took on jobs formerly held only by men, sometimes even positions of great peril behind battle lines.
One musical highlight of Safe for Democracy will be William Averitt’s settings of five poems by Langston Hughes, for voices and four-hand piano. Another favorite programmed is Bigler’s setting of the poem “I Dream a World,” by Langstomn Hughes, which strongly prefigures Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. In addition to choral arrangements of tunes by Ellington and Gershwin, the concert will feature choral arrangements of spirituals, a form of art music newly emerging during the post-War period.
Ember commemorates the centennial anniversary of WWI throughout an entire year’s concert activity by examining what can be learned from examining the result of the war. This year-long focus culminates in Armistice Day concerts in November of 2018. Veterans will be recognized and honored at every performance and given red lapel poppies, the WWI symbol of solidarity with soldiers.
Spring is here! And with it comes the annual Gala of Schola Cantorum on Hudson. We are excited to again hold our Gala at Highlawn Pavilion in West Orange, NJ, an elegant venue with a wonderful view of the Manhattan skyline.
Your presence and your support are vital to furthering Schola/Ember’s brilliant music and educational opportunities that so enliven the human spirit.
Please join us on June 8th for a delightful evening of delicious food and wine, mingling, music and Ember song. Ample parking is available and valet service is included with your tax-deductible ticket.